Researchers from the Langley Research Center recently conducted a study on the effects of carbon dioxide on the Earth’s atmosphere. For the first time, hypotheses about the negative effects of CO2 could be observed directly.
The work was supported by NASA TIMED. The results showed that this greenhouse gas cools and shrinks the atmosphere. Note that the observations were mainly made at the level of two atmospheric layers (mesosphere and thermosphere) still called MLT. At the level of these, the carbon dioxide sends back infrared radiation. This rejection causing the upper atmosphere to shrink which also leads to an increase in drag. Martin Mlynczak, a scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, was the study’s lead author. The document was published in the journal Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
Carbon dioxide shrinks the atmosphere through radiation
Scientists then observed in certain lower layers of the atmosphere a warming effect caused by CO2. This gas absorbs and reflects infrared radiation. At the level of the MLT, part of the radiation escapes into space, thus favoring the cooling of the upper atmosphere.
According to old hypotheses, this is the decrease in temperature also induces a contraction of the stratosphere. With this study, we now know that the phenomenon also occurs at the level of the mesosphere and thermosphere. Based on the TIMED data, the team noticed that MLT lost about 1,333 meters of its volume. Around the rain 342 meters of this loss comes from the radioactive cooling of CO2.
Unfortunately, according to other studies, thermospheric cooling induced by carbon dioxide could lead to a 33% reduction atmospheric drag in 2070.
“At each altitude there is cooling and contraction, which we partly attribute to increased carbon dioxide. »
Martin Mlynczak, scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center
A phenomenon of atmospheric overload
Thus, the shrinking of the Earth’s atmospheric layer caused by carbon dioxide poses an even greater danger. In reality, this affects the loss of volume also the resistance of the atmosphere. This results in a reduction of the forces that promote its cleaning. This means the waste of satellites and other old technologies in low earth orbit will probably stay in place longer.
In fact, this eventuality is profitable for the new rockets, as they will stay better in orbit. In turn, these observation machines will be forced toconstantly adjust their trajectory to avoid collisions with the remains of their ancestors.
“One consequence is that the satellites stay in place longer. However, they will have to adjust their trajectory to avoid collisions. »
Martin Mlynczak, scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center.